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tv   Nightline  ABC  August 31, 2010 11:50pm-12:20am EDT

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earl is still a very
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dangerous hurricane, 135 mile per hour winds. meanwhile, for us, it would be another hot day. 95 degrees once again. that will be our 23rd 95 degree day tomorrow, and after that, the weekend looks great with lots of sunshine. summer is over, but it will still be 95 tomorrow.
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. . . tonight on "nightline," mission accomplished? the president tells the nation tonight that combat operations in iraq are over. but what's actually going to change? we go overseas to talk to soldiers who are staying, and to find out whether iraqi forces are ready. teens double down. they're too young to bet in
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casinos, but a growing number of teens are making thousands playing poker anyway, online. we go inside the virtual vegas, where the pots are up, and the ages are down. and, collision course? hurricane earl looks to blow through most east coast beaches before the labor day crowds arrive, but the storm could leave chaos behind. we check out what landfall could look like. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," august 31st, 2010. good evening, i'm terry moran. president obama spoke to the nation about the long war in iraq, and that's where we begin tonight. he said, quote, we have met our responsibilities. now, it's time to turn the page. the president declared an end to combat operations. he spoke of the sacrifices of u.s. troops and their families,
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and he looked ahead at home and abroad. he was somber, almost still behind the desk in the oval office, where he noted it all began. >> from this desk, 7 1/2 years ago, president bush announced the beginning of military operations in iraq. >> reporter: that night was filled with the shock and awe of american military might. but history has its own deep secrets. and what unfolded was beyond anyone's imagining. and so, all these years later, president obama declared this historic milestone. >> tonight, i am announcing that the american combat mission in iraq has ended. operation iraqi freedom is over. and the iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. >> reporter: he tried to sum up what the war in iraq has meant, and what has been accomplished by the more than 1.5 million americans who have served there.
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>> they defeated a regime that terrorized its people. together with iraqis, and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help iraq seize the chance for a better future. >> reporter: but iraq is a long way from that future, and in the screams of sirens after bombings, the political bickers, it remains doubtful. a reality the president acknowledged. >> of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. extremists will continue to set off bombs. attack iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. but ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. >> reporter: there are scars at home, too. the iraq war divided the country, and those divisions were deep and bitter. >> i'm mindful that the iraq war has been a contentious issue at home. here, too, it's time to turn the page. >> in the battle of iraq, the united states and our allies
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have prevailed. >> reporter: president obama's predecessor who launched the war and rejoiced in the success of its early stages, saw his presidency ultimately crippled by it. here, too, though, president obama sought to make a gesture of reconciliation. >> this afternoon, i spoke to former president george w. bush. it's well known that he and i disagreed about the war from its outset. yet, no one can doubt president bush's support for our troops or his love of country and commitment to our security. the greatest of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences. and to learn from our experience, as we confront the many challenges ahead. >> reporter: but for most, this moment is one for reflection. defense secretary robert gates was overcome with emotion at the thought of what has been given and lost in this war. >> the courage of these men and
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wom women, their determination, their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families, along with the service and sacrifice of so many others in uniform, have made this day, this transition, possible, and we must never forget. >> reporter: there's another war, of course, even older than iraq, and president obama sought to reinvigorate a war-weary nation for the challenges ahead in afghanistan. >> we will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al qaeda, while preventing afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. and because of our drawdown in iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. >> reporter: and with americans still suffering and anxious in an company that barely shows a pulse, the president pivoted to the nation's most pressing concern today.
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>> we need to restore our economy and president the millions of americans who lost their jobs back to work. this will be difficult. but in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people. and my central responsibility as president. >> reporter: 50,000 u.s. troops remain in iraq, and as so many others come home and their mission changes, president obama tried to draw inspiration from what they did -- serve with honor. >> our troops are the steel in our ship of state. and those our nation may be traveling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true and that beyond the predawn darkness, better days lie ahead. >> the president and a historic milestone. there's lot more about the president's speech on when we come back, we're going to move from the seat of government to the field of combat. we will pay a visit to camp victory in americiraq, and see
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of official combat operations in iraq may have ended, but 50,000 u.s. troops remain. to understand how their mission is changing, and to find out what they think about it, dan harris went to the source. one question he had was whether iraqi forces are really ready to take over the job of securing their country. the answer, it turns out, depends on whom you ask. >> reporter: terry, good evening from camp victory in baghdad,
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we're right outside of one of saddam's old palaces. not a lot of people in this country saw president obama's speech tonight because it took place at 3:00 in the morning when most were asleep. but the end of the combat mission here is a huge story and we've been here for more than a week, counting down the final hours. >> so now our escorts are leaving us because we're leaving the city proper. >> reporter: t-minus eight days until the end of a combat mission, and i'm sitting in the back of a u.s. army vehicle sweating like a pig in the heat. when we hear this report. >> it is an ied. >> two is probably a pretty fair assessment. >> talking about two bombs a day for people at home, who might be concluding the war is over -- that seems like it contradicts that. >> is there violence in iraq? yeah, absolutely.
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yeah, there's still bad things that happening. >> reporter: back in america, the big headline is, all the combat troops are leaving. do you feel like the war is over? >> we're combat troops. we're still here. we've still got a job to do. the names change but the mission's pretty much the same. >> reporter: you don't feel like combat is done? >> not at all, sir. >> reporter: it's still dangerous here, but it is also, in many ways, a whole new war. u.s. forces now need iraqi permission if they want to go arrest or kill a terrorist. and, they need an iraqi escort any time they drive through a major city. >> that's pretty big change, isn't it, from the way you used to do business. >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: what are the rules? if you get shot at, do you have to wait for a senior iraqi officer to say it's okay for you to shoot back? >> american soldier always has the right to self-defense. >> reporter: how would you communicate in a moment like that? >> ah, i mean, just body
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language, i think. >> when bullets start flying, everybody seems to just react on instinct. >> reporter: right. >> second nature. rk the >> reporter: it is mostly the iraqis, not the americans, who are on the front lines. they lead most of the patrols and at this joint checkpoint, it's the iraqi troops searching the cars while american soldiers monitor via video feeds. >> not really too much left we have to do. >> reporter: you imagine you joined the military to be a soldier, to fight. do you ever get bored in this current situation? >> it's a little different, but this is what, you know, my job is now. this is what i've been asked to do. >> reporter: t-minus seven days until the end of the combat mission, and al qaeda in iraq launches a coordinated, devastating series of attacks. mostly against iraqi security forces. all over the country. we're with the u.s. army's desert rogues battalion outside of mohsle when the initial
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reports start coming in. >> we had a report of a -- >> reporter: car bomb. >> a car bomb. the latest reports, the iraqis on the ground identified it, shot at it and it exploded before hurting anyone, so, great success story. >> reporter: the troops here in mohs mosul may have responded, but they were taken by surprise by most of the other attacks, which raises perhaps the most burning question in this country right now. are the iraqis capable of picking up the slack and keeping this country safe? >> nice to meet you. >> reporter: ross coffman, the commander hosting us on this imbed, eck copes the optimistic white house line on this score. do you trust them? >> absolutely. the change in the iraqi army over my three tours has been immense. they -- they're professional. they're focused. >> reporter: so, you're pretty confident that withdrawing,
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quote unquote, combat troops isn't going to lead to a huge spike in violence? >> i do not believe so, no. >> reporter: but coffman's own soldiers, who live and work right next to the iraqi soldiers, are less certain. how ready do you think they are? >> i think they're a lot more ready than they were a couple of years ago, but they still got a ways to go. >> reporter: the iraqis don't do themselves any public relations favors when they greet our camera inside their barracks by dancing and toying with their guns. and check out what this iraqi first lieutenant admitted to us. with the american combat troops leaving, can the iraqi army keep the peace here? "to be honest," he says, "we need a couple more years." three days until the end of combat, and i'm on the streets. and to be fair, it's obvious that iraqi troops, who have been in charge for months, are doing a good job of keeping the peace.
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an american walking through the market would have been unthinkable. the last time i was here, before the surge, we were finding bodies with drill holes in the face by the side of the road. now, families are out having ice cream and fancy new restaurants are opening up. though, they will pat you down for weapons before you can get a table. but yet, so many of the iraqis we meet are deeply, darkly pessimistic, including this offduty cop. though you are a police officer, you don't think that the iraqi forces can keep this country safe without the americans here anymore? >> translator: yes, i don't think so. they don't have enough weapons. they are not ready for this mission. >> reporter: and listen to what this member of parliament told us. >> americans, they want to get out so, they have to say this. they can't say, they're not ready and get out. >> reporter: we're asked by strangers if we can help them leave this country and come to america.
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why do you want to leave here? >> it's no good. >> reporter: it's no good here? >> no good. >> reporter: why not? everything? everything. while violence is way down, hundreds of civilians are still being killed here every month. basic services like power and trash removal are spotty at best. and, perhaps most corrosively, five months after they held national elections here, the politicians cannot agree on forming a new government, leaving a potentially dangerous power vacuum. today, t-minus one day until the end of combat, vice president joe biden spends the day meeting with all the major political players, trying to cajole them into cutting a deal. the local news channels cover it all wall to wall. but when president obama gives his speech from the oval office -- >> i am announcing that the american combat mission in iraq has ended. >> reporter: it's in the middle of the night here, and not many people in this anxious nation are awake to hear it. for "nightline," this is dan
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harris in baghdad. >> and that's the reality in iraq. thanks to dan harris for that strong report. when we come back, we'll take a look at the changing face of professional poker, and the new crop of teenagers who are winning and losing thousands. hi, may i help you? yes, i hear progressive has lots of discounts on car insurance. can i get in on that? are you a safe driver? yes. discount! do you own a home? yes. discount! are you going to buy online? yes! discount! isn't getting discounts great? yes! there's no discount for agreeing with me. yeah, i got carried away. happens to me all the time. helping you save money -- now, that's progressive. call or click today. i couldn't sleep right. next day it took forever to get going. night after night, i sat up. sprayed up. took a shower...
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> they are too young to set foot in any casino, but teenage gamblers are starting to rake in pots that would make any professional proud. the game of choice is online
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poker, where all those young players need to build the expertise is a lot of free time and a little seed money and some cases that's provided by their parents. john donvan has our report. >> reporter: vegas is for winning which is the whole point, of course, and there are all kinds of ways to win. but then there is the joe kata way of winning. which is to win so big, last year's world series of poker, this was him, that now, when joe comes to town, he gets his own security excourt, he gets the private trip upstairs and when he gets there, the party is all for him. all this, at such a young age, it seems he's still only getting used to it. >> i'm not really too good at this mike thing. >> reporter: he's only 22, but this began when he was just a teenager, and what made him great was the internet, where he could play more than 2,000 hands of poker a day. and while he was the big winner
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last year, and you have to be 21 to play here, it turns out there's a whole new generation of teenagers right behind him, who have made the same discovery. you can get good online, very good, and very young, without ever leaving your house. joe says poker is his life, but especially when he took it online. >> i started playing online at an early age. when i could. and i was always the quieter type. i didn't really go out much and cards was like my means of getting away. i remember one day i just kept playing every hour of the day, kept grinding and i got up to 15,000, 20,000 by the end of the week. >> reporter: he was still only a teenager. just as blaine brount is now, a budding joe kada. at 19, two years younger than the u.s. legal gambling age, but nothing prevents him from playing the online games a college student at the university of illinois -- >> one, two, three, four -- >> reporter: blaine has a summer job teaching drums at the same
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high school he attended, so, he's got a life. but also, thanks to the internet, he's got poker. >> it's a fun game. but you know, i treat it as a business. i treat it as a real job. >> reporter: is it a real job? >> yeah. absolutely. i'm not gambling to see what's going to happen. i'm trying to make a profit, you know. i pay my rent, i pay my bills by playing poker. it absolutely can be a real job. >> reporter: in the summer months, at least, he still lives at home but keeps his hand online in a big way. his mom supports what he's doing and gave him money to get started. >> i'm proud. it's not something that everybody can do. i view it more -- he describes it as a job. i see it as a sport. there's going to be a winner, there's going to be a loser. >> gave me $100. she trusted me right away. and she was wrong. in some respects -- >> reporter: you lost it. >> she said try again and she helped me. i paid her


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